Over 200,000 dentists provide dental services for U.S. patients so that their teeth and smiles remain healthy and attractive. Although a dentist is invaluable for a wide range of dental treatments and procedures, you yourself are actually the front line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease!
If you properly care for your teeth and gums at home, you have massively increased the odds that you will not be affected by tooth decay and gum disease. Although we love to see you and your family at the office, the best way to prevent damage to your teeth and gums is to get on top of your oral care at home.
Your Baby's Dental Health
Parents have a special responsibility to be informed about best practices when it comes to the health of their baby's teeth and gums. Proper dental care goes a long way in protecting the vulnerable new teeth of your baby, setting great habits that will last for a lifetime.
Some parents mistakenly believe that nothing special is really necessary when it comes to their baby's oral care, since their teeth have not yet come in. But it's best to go ahead and get them into an oral care routine as early as possible. Be sure that you are cleaning your baby's gums on a regular basis using a wet towel to remove any milk residue.
After they have cut their first tooth, it is recommended to go ahead and make their first appointment. And just like dental care for adults, try to be monitoring what they are eating, to prevent tooth decay.
Your baby needs to only be drinking breast milk or bottle formula. Although juices contain a great deal of nutrition, I recommend limiting their consumption due to the sugars and acids that they contain. Avoid allowing your baby to sleep with their bottle in their mouth, as this gives oral bacteria additional time to multiply and thrive.
Children over the age of three need to:
- Brush their teeth with a good fluoride toothpaste twice a day
- Visit the dentist twice annually
- Eat a nutritious diet without a heavy load of sugary treats
Besides worrying about the normal concerns of tooth decay and gum disease, teens fall into a special category because this is the time when they often begin taking part in organized sports. It's all fun and games until a tooth gets knocked out. So make sure that they wear a mouthguard when taking part in sports or any activity that could result in a violent collision.
Adults Over 60
If you think that just because you are older you're invulnerable to cavities, think again. In fact, as we grow older, we actually tend to have a second round of cavities. One main cause of cavities among older adults is dry mouth.
Although experiencing dry mouth is not a normal part of the aging process, it is a common side effect of hundreds of medications. The saliva in your mouth allows food debris and bacteria to be washed away and out of contact with your teeth. So a dry mouth means more cavities.
Ways to prevent dry mouth:
- Drink more water to keep your mouth lubricated.
- Stimulate saliva production with lozenges or sugar-free gum.
- Avoid foods and beverages known to cause dry mouth, like carbonated soft drinks and alcohol.
How often should you visit the dentist?
Young children should undergo their initial oral exam once their first tooth has come in, or by their first birthday. We can provide resources and advice to help care for your child's first teeth. After that initial visit, we will give you recommendations for how often they should have their checkups. This is typically every six months.
For adults, the frequency of visits depends upon the state of your oral and overall health, as well as your risk factors for developing gum disease and tooth decay. If you have great oral hygiene, you may need to only visit once or twice a year. Someone with cavities or gum disease may need to visit more frequently.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik